In February 1995, Nick Cave released the album “Murder Ballads”. On the album is one of my all time favourite songs “Where the wild roses grow”
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and Kylie Minogue first performed the song publicly on 4 August 1995 in Cork, Republic of Ireland. I have often wondered why they picked Cork, maybe it was because the song was based on an Irish legend, The legend of Elisa Day.
It is tale from Medieval Ireland about a woman named Elisa Day whose beauty was like a wild rose. A young man came to town a fell in love with her. On the third day, he took her down to the river—where he killed her.
Legend has it that her beauty was like that of the wild roses that grew down the river, all bloody and red. One day, the young came to the small town where Elisa lived. He instantly fell in love with her.
On the first day, he visited her where she lived. The next day he gifted her with a single red rose. After this, he asked Elisa to meet him where the wild roses grow. Their short lived relationship only lasted for 3 days.
On the 3rd and the last day, he took her down by the river where he killed her. He waited until her back was turned, before striking her with a large rock in the back of the head. He then whispered, “All beauty must die” — and with one swift blow, he killed her instantly.
After she died, the young evil man placed a single red rose between her teeth and pushed her body into the river below.
“On the third day he took me to the river
He showed me the roses and we kissed
And the last thing I heard was a muttered word
As he stood smiling above me with a rock in his fist.
On the last day I took her where the wild roses grow
And she lay on the bank, the wind light as a thief
As I kissed her goodbye, I said, ‘All beauty must die’
And lent down and planted a rose between her teeth.”
Elisa’s body was never recovered, not was the exact location ever revealed. Yet there are still people now who claim to have seen the ghost of Elisa Day floating over the rivers.